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[vahy-kair-ee-uh s, vi-] /vaɪˈkɛər i əs, vɪ-/
performed, exercised, received, or suffered in place of another:
vicarious punishment.
taking the place of another person or thing; acting or serving as a substitute.
felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others:
a vicarious thrill.
Physiology. noting or pertaining to a situation in which one organ performs part of the functions normally performed by another.
Origin of vicarious
1630-40; < Latin vicārius substituting, equivalent to vic(is) (genitive) interchange, alternation (see vice3), + -ārius -ary; see -ous
Related forms
vicariously, adverb
vicariousness, vicariism, noun
nonvicarious, adjective
nonvicariously, adverb
nonvicariousness, noun
unvicarious, adjective
unvicariously, adverb
unvicariousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vicariously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus, vicariously, was Ericus Dale recognized as a great man.

    A Virginia Scout Hugh Pendexter
  • The birds warn the rhinoceros of danger, and he, vicariously, feeds the birds.

    The Pools of Silence H. de Vere Stacpoole
  • If the Church wants to take my hell (vicariously) it is welcome to it.

    Men, Women, and Gods Helen H. Gardener
  • Wasn't it enough for me to pay, vicariously, the tax on being absurd?

    The Sacred Fount Henry James
  • They bring me their troubles and their joys, and I suffer and am glad with them, vicariously.

    Mavis of Green Hill Faith Baldwin
  • So Lincoln discerned, and so he humbly, vicariously confessed.

  • If she cannot have one directly, she will have it vicariously.

    Septimus William J. Locke
  • Sometimes by doing this he can be doing the other too, and he can always do it vicariously.

    A Librarian's Open Shelf Arthur E. Bostwick
British Dictionary definitions for vicariously


/vɪˈkɛərɪəs; vaɪ-/
obtained or undergone at second hand through sympathetic participation in another's experiences
suffered, undergone, or done as the substitute for another: vicarious punishment
delegated: vicarious authority
taking the place of another
(pathol) (of menstrual bleeding) occurring at an abnormal site See endometriosis
Derived Forms
vicariously, adverb
vicariousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin vicārius substituted, from vicis interchange; see vice³, vicissitude
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vicariously



1630s, from Latin vicarius "substitute, deputy" (adj. and n.), from vicis "turn, change, exchange, substitution," from PIE root *weik-, *weig- "to bend, wind" (cf. Sanskrit visti "changing, changeable;" Old English wician "to give way, yield," wice "wych elm;" Old Norse vikja "to bend, turn;" Swedish viker "willow twig, wand;" German wechsel "change"). Related: Vicariously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vicariously in Medicine

vicarious vi·car·i·ous (vī-kâr'ē-əs, -kār'-, vĭ-)

  1. Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.

  2. Occurring in or performed by a part of the body not normally associated with a certain function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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